A Nigerian journalist, Solomon Elusoji, has published a book titled Travelling With Big Brother: A Reporter’s Junket Through China.
The book documents his ten months reporting trip through communist China.
The trip was sponsored by the Chinese government but the book was written as an independent project, according to the author.
Mr. Elusoji travelled to China via the China International Press Communication Center (CIPCC)-China Africa Press Center (CAPC) 2018 program.
He was in China between February 2018 until December 2018.
The program is affiliated with the Chinese government’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which seeks, ultimately, to strengthen China’s connectivity (with) and prestige in the world.
The book comes as more Chinese money flows into Africa raising fears that China will become the new face of neo-colonialism on the continent.
In September 2018, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced a $60 billion financial package for the continent.
Apart from government money, private Chinese companies are also making huge bets.
In November 2019, a group of Chinese investors contributed up to $120 million to a new startup based in Nigeria, OPay. Similar investments are being made across the continent.
The growing influence of China in Africa has also extended across multiple facets, including more people-to-people interaction. According to a 2017 report, China is now the second most popular destination for African students studying abroad, ahead of the US and UK and only behind France.
Consequently, China’s presence on the continent has raised several questions on how it will shape Africa’s future. Mr. Elusoji contends with some of these questions in his book.
“China is an economic miracle, the kind of success most African countries would like to replicate,” Mr. Elusoji, who is a practising journalist in Nigeria, says. “But China is also governed by a dictatorship, the press is an arm of government and any form of public dissent against the Chinese Communist Party, the country’s sole political party with real power, is crushed with paranoiac alacrity.
“While living there, I wasn’t sure which was better, to not be free and prosperous, or to be free and live in penury. But while writing the book, I concluded that it is actually impossible to be free and be poor. Democracy, as currently practised in Africa, is not equal to freedom. The most important thing is good governance.”
The book follows the author across several cities in China including a dreamlike trip to Hainan and a breathtaking tour through Shanghai.
Travelling With Big Brother is available on Amazon. ✚